Slums along Saigon canals to be removed; city struggles with huge costs

Thanh Nien News

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A slum area around a canal in District 8. Photo credit: VnExpress A slum area around a canal in District 8. Photo credit: VnExpress


Ho Chi Minh City has counted at least more than 17,000 shanty houses along its canals, saying that it may need hundreds of millions of dollars to relocate all the slum dwellers. 
A new report by the city construction department said it plans to remove these substandard shanty homes in order to clean its canals and reduce flooding and pollution, local media reported.
The total number of slum housing units however can be much higher because slum areas along 67 other canals in the three districts 7, 8 and 12 have not been included in the survey.
The city had earlier planned to remove all slums along canals in the next five years.
But the construction department said that, given the big number, it will have to give priority to 11,600 houses next to the more polluted canals.
Relocating those families alone will require five years and around VND12.4 trillion (US$568.8 million), it said.
The city started removing shanty houses from its canals in 1993 and have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on this task.
It plans to bring all the stinky, dirty canals back to life, like it has done successfully with the Nhieu Loc – Thi Nghe, which runs roughly eight kilometers through seven districts.
The city spent around a decade and more than US$390 million, including funding from the World Bank, to revive it.
It has tried to lure private funds into the canal projects but some interested investors have pulled the plug after seeing little in return.

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